News

24 september 2019 – NEWS UPDATE

Common Frames launches an open source curriculum for inclusive, intercultural and critical media literacy for recently arrived migrants

“The moments that the light turns for a student, that he/she dares to try something new, those are the most beautiful moments for a coach, for a teacher, to witness. Because this is quite an intensive trajectory, and we were quite demanding, you experience many of such moments.” (Rob Bekker, NT2 teacher Ithaka ISK Utrecht)

This lesson series – focusing on media and audio-visual literacy – has been developed for young people who are schooled at international transition schools (ISK) in the Netherlands. Researchers from Utrecht University developed – in collaboration with teachers and students from the ISK Ithaka school in Utrecht  – a tailor-made curriculum.

Throughout the project “Media Literacy through Making Media” we looked at how critical media literacy education could strengthen the resilience of young migrants. The lesson series is the result of a two-year study, funded by the National Research Agenda in the Netherlands, and is now housed under the foundation Common Frames.

Working with media appears to be an excellent method to work on new ways for the personal and professional development of young newcomers. In this lesson series we applied the principle that you really learn to look critically at the meaning of media, once you have mastered and overseen its creation process.

An important insight from our research is that the current media literacy education is often based on a Western perspective (rich and democratic societes), who have enjoyed education from an early age. For young newcomers, time they spend using media largely corresponds with Dutch peers, but by taking Dutch pupils as a starting point, the existing education ignores the starting point that young migrants have in terms of digital identification, civil engagement, (necessary) self-censorship, and alternative forms of news consumption due to limited access to (independent) news. In addition, the smartphone is literally a lifeline for young newcomers with family and friends in their country of origin. Media is necessary to survive contemporary wars and to be able to flee to a safe country. These experiences make them media literate in different ways from their Dutch peers.

“I think some Dutch people think that we have no culture in Syria. That we have learned nothing there. But we are people just like you. We had food, we had everything in Syria. Someone asked me: “do you have televisions in Syria?” Of course we do. It is a country like any other country. I find this annoying sometimes.” (Sarah and Riem, both 16 years, from Syria)

With fast technological development, media are constantly changing in narrative, intention and form. Cultural identities and personal reasons for migration also change over time. It is important to have educational programs about media with the space to meet the needs of young newcomers with build-in flexibility to adjust the curriculum when needed.

When developing this lesson serie, we did this in co-creation with teachers, students and researchers. In the past three years we have extensively tested the series with more than 200 students of different ages and learning levels, who would graduate from the transition school in that schoolyear and proceed to follow-up Dutch education or work. With this series as a tool, teachers and class mentors of internation transition classes can take a first step in training of media literacy and audio-visual language to young newcomers.

“Initially I had the idea that these young people would be behind, if you compare them to Dutch peers. But during the project I noticed that it was not the case. And that many students had much more awareness about media than I had and what I had expected them to have.” (Petra Eijndhoven, NT2 docent Ithaka Internationale Schakelklassen)

To develop Dutch education for everyone, and to improve intercultural dialogue between the existing majority and the minorities, it appears to be crucial that teachers continue to evaluate the skills and interests of students and that they act as facilitators and coaches throughout the lessons. Teachers and young people learn together, and from each other. The same applies to us, the developers of this curriculum. We are launching this lesson serie in Dutch for free, in Open Access format, according to the principle of “creative commons”.

To guarantee a sustainable follow-up in the field of media literacy and audio-visual language for young newcomers, this project is now housed under the new Common Frames foundation. With the foundation we want to promote inclusive and intercultural media literacy. We see media as a means to connect people and to create shared frameworks.

For more information, research publications and videos about this project visit the project’s website:

www.mmm.sites.uu.nl
For more information about the curriculum, please contact us at info[a]commonframes.nl

Blog post by Sanne Sprenger – sanne[a]commonframes.nl